Those who know me know that there are many things that bother me. One is people who use the word "retard" in any form, at any time, and for any purpose. I'd like to tell you why it bothers me, but as luck would have it, an online friend did just that today on Facebook, and quite eloquently. She has an adorable little girl who happens to have Down syndrome. We've never met in real life, but I've been inspired and moved by her words more than once.....today she gave me permission to re-post these words here. Thanks, Rebecca. :)
Dear friends and family,
When you use the r-word, even in the most casual of terms, even when you follow it with "I'm not talking about E" or "I don't mean it like that", it doesn't take away from the fact that I am aware that anyone who can just randomly throw out such an ugly word in front of me or my child, likely uses it more when there is no need for excuses or reasons.
No worries there good buddy, pal, great friend of mine, there is no protection in place to prevent the use of this word in any form or fashion. It isn’t illegal to use the r-word.
There won’t be any r-word police there they next time you purposefully choose to utter that word. There isn’t a twelve-step program; there aren’t recovery groups for those who cannot stop using the word. No one is going to hold you accountable when or if you do say retard.
Do you remember the last time you saw my daughter? Whether it was in person, a photo, or video, did she seem any less human to you? Do you think that the quality of her life is any different from yours? Do you think that by merely having an extra chromosome she is any less worthy of respect? Does she look or act retarded, as you use it to describe individuals?
The word retard is unacceptable in any form. I am certain there are other words you can use to replace it. Retard is a pejorative, prejudice-laden, derogatory offensive term. When you choose the word retard or retarded, you are without any further thought, reminding me that there are plenty of people in this world who still make this word choice when describing individuals with Down syndrome, and many others, none of whom should be referred to as the r-word.
Let us not debate about when, where, or by whom you may feel the word retard is appropriate. Let’s avoid reviewing all the recent hype about usage of the r-word by those who have political influence, by those who are celebrities or are otherwise in the public eye. I am sick and tired of the video clips and banter about who was wrong, why it was wrong, and frankly, anyone can defend the usage of the word as acceptable for usage in satire or anything else for that matter.
The r-word is not acceptable streaming across the nations airways or behind the walls of closed political events. Contrary to your naïve belief there is certainly not an acceptable usage clause or disclaimer that provides you or any other friend and family member leniency when you elect to use the r-word.
Do not bite your tongue or quickly pitter-patter around your accidental usage in my presence. It is what it is and there is no way you can take that word back. If you are comfortable enough to use it in front of me or my child, you are just as wrong as those who have a large audience and great impact on their listeners. You should know better, everyone should know better, there is no excuse or reason for the r-word.
Now I shall direct you to the campaign to end the word. No, I am not asking you to mindlessly meander over to the page and join this cause merely because it only takes a few moments. No, I am not asking you to simply make a few mouse clicks and without any further thought to join the plight to end the r-word, that would be foolish. Do not join the group because you think it will serve as some good token for points because it looks as if you really do care—if you do not. Yes, I am fully aware that simply joining a cause does not require a follow through.
Please be aware that in my world, and the world of many others, the r-word is not ok today, tomorrow, or any time in the future. It should not be acceptable in your world either.
Stop using the r-word.